The Essence of Ecology: Uncanny Ipseities

by | 22 Sep 2011

Full Title: Uncanny Ipseities: presencing beenness – worlding-rootedness/rooted worldliness – political differend : be-ginning-steering of the west as the be-coming-gliding of the east **

The main move of this paper is to conceive Heidegger as a thinker about the essence of ecology and to be attentive to, to glide attentively in, the temporal, material and political uncanny call of this essence, to glide in the most uncanny withdrawing essence of speech, an essence of which mortals are an instantiation. The paper calls to be attentive to the call of the essence of ecology thus prioritizing it over economic thinking rather than the other way round. It calls for gliding, amidst the current dominating steering conceptions of time, materiality and politics viewing the origin of the polis as neither left or right. The paper contemplates the rapture and gesture of critique that characterizes our epoch. It argues that our epoch is the conclusion of metaphysics, one that takes us to the be-ginning of the west, one that manifests as post-foundational humanism and steering left Heideggerianism.

In gliding I am attentively letting, a state which is neither active or passive, responding to a call constantly in a way which is mine but do not come from my ideas not even, if the response is unmediated, from my mind. I am being spoken by something changing that does never materialize into an extant event or situation to which I form the idea of responding. Gliding is the graceful movement of call and response without doing violence to the call. In steering and a situation conjured by the comportment to steer I decide, I form the idea, I represent the idea of what is that I am responding to, in thought. Gliding, then, let thinkingly and because, unlike steering, does not commerce with power and powerlessness, comes from a place that can not be disempowered by the human time, human world that is rooted in it but which do not condition it. Gliding amidst steering remains essentially empty and uncanny.

Is plurality the same as limitlessness? How does truthfulness originate as the negativity of plurality as in antagonistic critique? Is it the same the negativity of limitlessness that emerges as the endurance of inexpressibility as poetic dwelling? How are human-beings, mortals, who are capable of speech, situated within the relationship of these origins. Finally, how are the temporal, material, political, legal implications of the relationship between these two kinds of origins? In this paper I argue that the meeting of limitlessness with mortality, of unboundedness with mindful finitude, necessitates truthfulness as an originary withdrawal and dis-closure, the origin of a-letheia that involves letting-appropriation and gliding and that this relationship is primordial, always already earlier and nearer than plurality that already involves punctuation and with it human steering one that merely commerce with plural possibilities of correctness.

The appropriating essencing of ecology – grasped as oikos – ‘home’ – and logia as ‘study of’ [itself from the ancient Greek lego (speaking/ telling)] – is nothing eco-logical. This essencing dis-closingly desires that mortals desire to be desired (their conatus essendi)as the guardians of withdrawing nature in letting nature uncannily and dis-closingly appropriate them earlier than any phenomenology. The essencing of ecology opens up a place of dwelling in the withdrawing logos – indeed oikos-logos.

Reading the later Heidegger with Spinoza’s Ethics, (the dialogue that Derrida insightfully observed was not embarked upon by Heidegger himself), as well as re-turning to the presocratic philosophy of nature as the unity of change, stillness and limitlessness, I argue that hermeneutics of the unbounded home happens earlier than hermeneutic phenomenology. It happens as perceivedness of presencing beenness. Talking about being and ‘ontology’ can may run the risk of not grasping this earlier movement of ek-static temporality, of all remembering all, [2] unless the word ‘Being’ understood as presencing and thus becoming a way, verbal – Be-ing. The manner mortals are nature in the same manner all things are, perceivedness and presencing beenness connote the stillness and movement that capture in Spinoza notion of third kind of knowledge and his notion of conatus as well as the conatus of mortals. From Heideggerian perspective this knowledge is based on understanding that has always already encounter things on their aspect of eternity grasping the unconditional understanding of nature in a feeling of safety that comes as the unconditionality of attentive letting (Gelassenheit) and enduring the inexpressibility of the most-uncanny (unheimlichste).

Perceivedness happens as self concealing call earlier than perception, situation, earlier even than the dawning of phenomenology. Perceivedness happens as a veiled withdrawing unbounded/unlimited will have appropriated finitude. It is as appropriating movement (Ereignis) that the lighting of temporality originates. That temporality is of ‘presensing beenness’ a continuous ek-stasic of movement, that is also still (nothing happens/nothing happens), rather than merely the ‘bofore’ and ‘after’ of mere historical time – nearer than the mere ‘existence in time’ that characterizes the epochal succession that preserves the metaphysical tension between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ merely apportioning different priority to each. That the unlimited paths of is-ing – and crucially, being in the midst of that is-ing rather than resorting to some form of report that a constant change happens – necessitates that any non-metaphysical movement of light from it to finite immanent mode of it, that grasps its own finitude (mortals) must have the essential characteristic of withdrawal – dis-closure – aletheia. Although both Heidegger and Spinoza could be seen as offering a primordial philosophy of the manner mortals are an instantiation of nature that is unconditioned by this instantiation – flickering the overcoming of anthropocentrism, it is Heidegger that gives us historical succession of the metaphysical epochs of the west in which inadequacy of love of nature continues to oppress mortals towards returning to living the uncanny complimentarity of their guardianship in anxiety and awe without epochal fallness. Reading these thinkers together with the presocratics and Taoism supplementing common insights from both is very important to understand the nature of immanence and mortal ‘place’ in nature temporally, materially and politically especially as it manifests as that which encounters the thoughts of mortals thrown into the rise and fall of the west the forgetfulness of which prophetically conditions their, at times violent, actions both of oppression and to resistance to it.

There are then two unconcealments. The first, the aletheia of human world that seemingly remains as human worlding, overcoming what Heidegger called the ‘they’ (das Man) unconcealment which is always already grounded in an earlier, second, more primordial appropriating aletheia of what I call, following the fourfold of later Heidegger worlding-rootedness/rooted worldliness. It is in the mystery of roots that mortals are dwelling together, their worlding awaits the divinities in the autochtonous materiality of earth that boundrs unbounded sky.

The materialization of uncanny place from which originary temporality springs as perceivedness of presencing beenness involves the uncanniest doubly concealed call (conceals as it reveals and conceals that it conceals) and the uncanny response whose saying, though belated, endures, sustains the inexpressibility of the traceless trace of the call.

Originary aletheia, the originary essencing of mortals – worlding that dwells in the fourfold grounds any aletheia that humans encounter that calls from their world and which estranges any historical methods. Originary aletheia unfolds as a primordial relation to essentially withdrawing volkisch speech (how-who?) that is earlier to, and refusing the mere use of language for the sake of radical inauguration of possibility of ‘meaning’ (how-what?). For mortals to dwell together in the triple structure of aletheia (the errancy of common ‘they’, worlding un-concealment whose uncanniness is itself rooted in the most-uncanny unconcealment of withdrawing nature) remains an earlier uncanny abyss which can not be filled. Being in the whilst of this abyss, measuring it either amidst epochal metaphysical and technological forgefulness essentially refuses any emergence that has already been lured/comported as perception and situation into the worldly potentiality that bears possibility of meaning, as we shall see, an opening for phronesis and critique.

Originary aletheia unfolds as a mystery that is sustained by mortals. The presencing of the mystery as beenness is encounters through special relations of mortal to language that refuses the very emergence of phenomenology that comports towards change of meaning and thus towards [in]correctness and which connotes mere ‘being’, ‘becoming’ and worldliness. Poetic dwelling sustains mortals in their ek-sistence, their conatus as nature by allowing them to desire to be appropriated by the most uncanny, letting, that is being appropriated through the pereivedeness of presencing beenness. That guardianship involves responding to a self-concealing call by a saying that endures the calls most uncanny inexpressibility – the veiled clearing of the nearest. This dwelling is silent [enduring inexpressibility] speech [zoon logon echon] and it is very different from any correctness-bound limit of sayability the battling of which constitudes steering critique. As rooted volk, whose worlding is rooted in the uncanny place, the locale of the mystery of the unity of the fourfold, there is mortal refusal that remains uncanny to the mere humanization of constitutional and institutional language. Such humanisation originates with a fall into forgetfulness that manifests as a dawning of some inner ‘yes-thing’ that already lends itself to the steering praxis of resisting – some post-foundational negativity the emergence of which is audible to constitutional and institutional possibility of meaning and thus to critique and radical phronesis. It is with this emergence that steering (the creative use of language) begins, beginning which is haunted by anxiety the origin of which refuses to be domesticated in the for-the-sake-of-which of critique. The idle grafting of the movement of aletheia on the mere changeability of meaning characterises post- foundational humanism, the most mature instantiation of metaphysical thinking that ‘overcome’ metaphysics. It is the essential fallness of the mortal condition into the human one and the ipseity of time and materiality that it entails that politically manifests as essential differend between the demonic truthfulness of poetic dwelling and the truth of plurality, exclusion and inclusion and antagonism that characterizes post foundational negativity that retains the truthfulness of correctness audible practical constitutional and institutional reasoning – the distinction between ‘politics’ and ‘the political’ and the relationship of a-legality that it connotes.

Both senses of unconcealment belong to the one compound of distance that characterises the chiasmus of poetic dwelling as worlding mortal pointers at the mystery of the withdrawing unlimited and unconditioned. The poetic dwelling is an empty space that always remains unchanged regardless of the historical instantiation of it and yet, it is the purchase of uncanny temporality that moves all historicality. However, when the first aletheia, that of the human world becomes a totality which feigns as constitutive of worlding without allowing worlding to sustains its chiasmus towards earth/sky, responding to their unconditionality – to the unconditionality of nature, that can be sense in places like the sea and the desert– that derivative unconcealment overshadows that which it is grounded upon and becomes one of the most mature manifestation of anthropocentric metaphysics on the west’s path of forgetting – it becomes a truncated Heideggerianism that can, and evidently has become ground for left post foundational [ethical and political] thought – on which we can hear the echo of a decay of the west. The seemingly unmediated ‘speculative’ ‘realism’ is precisely the manifestation of forgetfulness of the uncanny. This truncated Heideggerianism, this post-foundational humanism, tames essential differed of the political condition of human togetherness. Heidegger, see the origin of appropriation as aletheia could not be a left political thinker, nor could he be a right one as both are instantiation of rootlessness and rootedness that are metaphysical.

This essential differend be-gins in originary a-lethia and is demonic and not agonistic and attends to the originary uncanny origin of truth rather than either give up truths OR returning them as multiplicity of moments of ‘correctness’. The demonic persists as essential injustice, an empty place that sustains uncanny space between poetic dwelling and which refuses to turn into the potentiality that characterizes the pseudo immanence of critique and radical rootless phronesis and praxis and from it the dawning of emergencies that anticipate critical constitutional and legal talk. I will make some remarks as to how the differend is forgotten by the steering negativity that characterizes contemporary post foundational thinking.

The be-coming of the be-ginning of the west violently calls for mortal thinking in a manner that conditions humans who now self-hail as ‘post-metaphysical’ as the very completion of metaphysics. The completion manifests as the notion of becoming-other no longer feels the need to heed beenness and worlding rootedness.

Volk is not an object of an idea that can become territorial or indeed militarist national socialism. Such a move would be as forgetfully metaphysical as the rootless left. Dwelling together in the demonic withdrawing nature – neither antagonism nor an object of an idea of militarism, nationalism and jurisdictional space. Amidst the decay of post-metaphysical post foundational humanism re-emerge, Tao, the oneness of dwelling together in nature withdrawing way, immediacy of uncanny paths that wrestles the complementarity of the human-mortal condition as the rootedness of oikos-logos.

Being silent in the wake of forgetfulness of Volk and in turn, the murderous violence that both provoked by radical rootlessness and responded to by militarism – both of which being embedded in human conceiving themselves as totally aggressively active or aggressively passive – this silence calls for thinking which, to evoke Heidegger reflection from What is Called Thinking, is thought provoking because [fatefully] fails to provoke thought.

The later Heidegger, like the Tao, is an unfolding song that can be heard in unbounded places of the desert, in the sea, the meeting of earth and sky, those spaces where beenness, and the mortality of the human world, its mindfulness of its own finitude that is dis-closedly rooted can call. The great philosophers of nature, the pre-Socratics, Lao Tse, Spinoza, Heidegger, the underlying attunement and beatitude that lurks beneath Spinoza’s geometrical method, is round, never something sharp as the ‘ontological difference’ or proposition and proofs. Round too is the love of withdrawing nature that it calls for, calling for inter alia by being silent about what has to decay, a epoch that has to be consummated towards the possibility of living uncanniness more unmediatedly.

* Oren Ben-Dor is Reader in Law at the University of Southampton.

** This paper re-thinks/develops/reformulates/enhances themes from Thinking about Law: In silence with Heidegger, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2007 esp. chapter 4 (the essence of law), 8 (being-with), 9 (ethical dwelling together in the mystery of the fourfold); ‘Worlding Rootedness: Martin Heidegger: Logic as the Question concerning the Essence of Language’, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, (on line Oct 2010, in print); ‘Agonic is not yet Demonic? At the be-ginning there will have be-come a de-cision’, in O. Ben-Dor (ed.), Law and Art: Justice Ethics and Aesthetics, London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 114-34.


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